“Swing It Again, Elin!” In Sweden, Domestic Violence Is Girl Power
Sweden, a nation that has managed to avoid war for over 200 years, has nevertheless been quick to condone overseas agression in one recent conflict: Stockholm-born Elin Nordegren's reportedly golf-club assisted assault on her philandering husband, Tiger Woods. Today on the Daily Beast, Katarina Andersson noted how some prominent Swedish media types have reacted to the Nordegren-Woods affair. Namely, "Swing it again, Elin!":
Swing it again, Elin!” wrote Jan Helin, editor in chief of Aftonbladet, the country's biggest newspaper, on his personal blog. One of the paper's top reporters, Ann Söderlund, proclaimed, “Thank God for girls like Elin. Next time, I hope she uses a bigger club."
Britta Svensson, a well-known columnist at the tabloid Expressen and a former U.S.-based correspondent, commented, “Our Swedish hearts are overwhelmed with pride, because our very own Elin didn’t take any s—. Just like a tough Swedish girl shouldn't. Elin is our heroine.”
The American media, too, has been quick to excuse Nordegren's alleged assault on Woods, which left him lying bewildered in the middle of the road, next to a busted car, with scratches on his face and possibly a broken tooth. Stateside, Tiger's cheating has been deemed far more scandalous that Nordegren's physical assault—commenters have labored to paint Nordegren as the victim to Woods' web of affairs, but have hesitated to recognize Woods as a victim of domestic violence. Still, I've yet to hear from anyone actually endorsing Nordegren's outburst as an act of girl-power. Until now. Writes Andersson:
The culture of child-rearing in Sweden makes sure that girls have a strong sense of self. "Swedish women like Elin are brought up to be independent and strong,” explains Karin Magnusson, the op-ed editor for Aftonbladet, "and you can only stand for just so much humiliation. We're excited about this. We're hoping Elin will file for divorce and show Tiger—and the world—what Swedish women stand for."
If Swedish cultural commentators want the world to know that Swedish women stand for divorcing cheaters, I think that's fine—if a bit odd. If they want the world to know that Swedish women stand for beating the cheaters and then divorcing them, I think that's a fucked up standard to set for an entire country of girls and boys. Plenty of Swedish girls will grow up to be cheaters, too—do we want their future spouses to grow up thinking it's empowering to physically assault them for screwing around?
Perhaps I'm working against a bit of a cultural "girl power" divide here, but I'm afraid that Nordegen's domestic violence role-reversal has gotten some feminist signals crossed. I don't know too much about the culture of Swedish child-rearing, but I do know some girl power universals: Girl power is about having a strong sense of self, standing up for yourself, and not taking peoples's shit. Sometimes, girl power is about being empowered physically—for purposes of self-esteem and self-defense. It's not about beating the shit out of people! And it's certainly not about encouraging domestic abusers to keep up the good work. I know that male abusers have been beating the shit out of their spouses for a long time now, but domestic violence is one male-dominated field where inviting more female participation does not help promote gender equality.
Image via Wikipedia Commons